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  • Complex rules make EU vulnerable to corruption, says report

    04/24/2014 4:54:44 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 4 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 24.04.14 @ 10:56 | Benjamin Fox
    Complacency and complex rules makes the EU’s own institutions vulnerable to corruption and conflicts of interest, a report by a leading transparency NGO has found. The 250-page “European Union Integrity System”, published by Transparency International on Thursday (24 April), is the first assessment looking at how ten EU institutions are dealing with internal corruption risks. “The EU institutions have done a lot to put their house in order; but strong foundations are being undermined by complex rules, complacency and a lack of follow up,” said Carl Dolan, director of Transparency International in Brussels. …
  • The European Union -- a model for The United States of Obama?

    04/24/2014 11:43:00 AM PDT · by DanMiller · 7 replies
    Dan Miller's Blog ^ | April 24, 2014 | Dan Miller
    Europe leads in the wrong directions. No it's not funny, Mr. President. While watching this Pat Condell video posted nearly three years ago, consider the similarities and dissimilarities between Europe then and the United States of Obama now. The United States have long had a common currency and it would be very inconvenient were it otherwise. Aside from that, most of the similarities are unfortunate. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNgHbGxbmOM]Video link Ravenous Govblather Beast of Washington Many of "our" elected officials are lazy, unresponsive and preoccupied with raising funds and then using them to campaign for re-election. Some are corrupt. However, the far greater multitudes of unelected...
  • Weapon of Last Resort: ECB Considers Possible Deflation Measures (European Central Bank)

    04/23/2014 7:01:40 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 1 replies
    Der Spiegel ^ | April 23, 2014 – 06:18 PM | Christian Reiermann and Anne Seith
    One of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s most important duties is watching his mouth. One ill-considered utterance is enough to sow panic on the financial markets. But during a press conference earlier this month, Draghi allowed himself a telling slip. Speaking to gathered journalists at the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Draghi twice almost uttered a word he has been at pains to avoid. “Defla…”, Draghi began, before stopping himself and continuing with the term “low inflation.”Yet despite Draghi’s efforts, the specter of deflation was omnipresent in Washington during the meetings. And it...
  • Republic of Ireland back in Commonwealth? Not as mad as it sounds, says senior Tory MP Fabricant

    04/23/2014 2:14:06 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 18 replies
    Belfast Telegraph ^ | 23 April 2014 | Rebecca Black
    There have been fresh calls for the Republic of Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth after the success of the recent State visit. Ireland left the Commonwealth in 1949, but recent historic moves including the visit of President Michael D. Higgins to the UK have reopened the debate. Senior Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said yesterday that the proposal “is not so mad as it might at first seem”. “If a country like the Republic of Ireland joined the Commonwealth, what greater message could be sent to countries facing political upheaval and disputes on the other side of the world than an...
  • ‘If Britain goes, Europe is lost’ (Alternative für Deutschland leader)

    04/23/2014 1:05:02 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 3 replies
    TheLocal.de ^ | 22 Apr 2014 17:31 GMT+02:00 | J. Arthur White
    Hans-Olaf Henkel speaks about when, not if, he will take his place in the European Parliament this spring. […] The former head of IBM Europe and one-time president of the German Federation of Industries is now the number two candidate on the list for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party. […] He pointed to the British Conservatives as the AfD’s “preferred partner” in the European Parliament following the elections and rejected any cooperation with Nigel Farage’s UKIP. […] While certainly skeptical of the euro, the party is not “Europe-skeptic.” “We are a party advocating a more democratic but leaner Brussels,”...
  • Time for EU energy union, says Polish PM

    04/22/2014 7:38:42 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 1 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 22.04.14 @ 10:54 | Benjamin Fox
    The European Union must create an energy union to secure its supply and reduce its dependence on Russian gas, Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said. Tusk’s energy blueprint, set out in an article in the Financial Times on Tuesday (22 April), would establish a single European body that would buy gas for the whole 28-nation bloc. This would end a system that currently sees the different countries negotiate their own deal with energy giant Gazprom, the government-backed firm which dominates Russia’s gas market. Meanwhile, “solidarity mechanisms” between EU countries would kick into action if countries were threatened with being...
  • Germany should make use of shale gas: EU

    04/21/2014 3:08:00 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 2 replies
    TheLocal.de ^ | 20 Apr 2014 10:34 GMT+02:00 | (AFP)
    EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger has urged Germany to make use of shale gas options and added that the he saw no danger of Europe’s access to Russian gas falling victim to possible economic sanctions in the standoff over Ukraine. […] “I am against scaling back or even cutting our gas links with Russia in the coming years,” the commissioner said. “But we must pursue our strategy of diversification. […] I would also urgently press Germany to make use of the shale gas option and allow fracking projects.” …
  • EU lawmakers smooth way for class actions against cartels

    04/19/2014 1:17:25 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 1 replies
    Reuters ^ | Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:18pm BST | Foo Yun Chee
    European lawmakers on Thursday eased the way for cartel victims to claim compensation from companies under new rules that also shield price-fixing whistleblowers from being the main target of million-euro lawsuits. The green light from the European Parliament came nine years after the European Commission broached the idea, seeing it as an additional tool, on top of fines, to deter companies from breaking antitrust laws. According to the Commission, only one in four cartels and antitrust infringements faced damages claims in the last seven years. Its 2010 estimate put the cost of unrecovered damages of infringements at over €20 billion...
  • EU Focuses Pressure on Israel to Make Concessions, Restart Talks

    04/19/2014 12:50:21 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 8 replies
    INN ^ | 4/18/2014, 6:00 PM | Ari Soffer
    EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton called on Israel to reverse recent announcements regarding construction in Judea and Samaria in order to advance peace talks. Ashton said she viewed with “great concern” an Israeli decision to declare an area near the Gush Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem as state land and the recognition of Jewish rights to the disputed Peace House in the Judean city of Hevron, a statement from her office said Friday. Ashton also lashed out at the “demolition of Palestinian property and the confiscation of EU humanitarian aid”. …
  • Britain's Labour Leader Conscripts Obama Architect David Axelrod for 2015 Election

    04/18/2014 3:34:17 AM PDT · by grimalkin · 3 replies
    Breitbart ^ | 4/18/2014 | RAHEEM KASSAM
    Britain's Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has conscripted the services of American campaigns professional David Axelrod, otherwise known as the architect behind President Barack Obama's U.S. election victory in 2008. The appointment of Axelrod to the Labour team is the latest in a long line of foreign consultants brought in to try and help Ed Miliband's team on the run up to the UK General Election in May 2015. Axelrod follows in the footsteps of 69-year-old U.S. community organiser Arnie Graf, who embarrassed Labour by claiming he was working for them, rather than consulting for them, without a UK work...
  • Europe faces worst human rights ‘crisis’ in decades

    04/17/2014 1:11:34 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 7 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 17.04.14 @ 09:29 | Nikolaj Nielsen
    Europe is facing its largest human rights crisis in over two decades, according to the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe (CoE). The human rights watchdog, in a report published on Wednesday (16), says corruption, human trafficking, racism and discrimination persist across Europe. […] CoE secretary general Thorbjørn Jagland—in a statement entitled “Europe in biggest human rights crisis since Cold War”—said the lack of democratic checks and balances, free media and an independent judiciary is the cause of widespread corruption and misuse of power. He is calling for a “new pan-European security agenda” to help stem the abuse. …
  • Russia and China forge closer ties, as EU explores sanctions

    04/17/2014 1:07:17 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 5 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 17.04.14 @ 09:29 | Andrew Rettman
    Russia is rolling out two major projects—a gas pipeline and a Crimea deep water port—with China, as EU countries and the US weigh options on economic sanctions. Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told EUobserver on Wednesday (16 April) that work on the “Power of Siberia” pipeline and the Chinese construction of a 25-meter-deep port in Crimea are proceeding as normal despite the Ukraine crisis. Describing the pipeline as a “mega-project”, he said it will pump 60 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year from the Kovykta and Tchayandinskoe gas fields to Russia’s far east, with a branch...
  • EU countries to boost defense budgets in light of Ukraine

    04/16/2014 1:21:03 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 6 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 16.04.14 @ 09:29 | Andrew Rettman
    Military chiefs have said the Ukraine crisis is a “wake-up call” for EU countries’ defense spending, as the US backed Ukraine’s use of force in eastern regions. Speaking to press after a regular meeting of EU defense ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday (15 April), the deputy chief of the EU’s external action service, Maciej Popowski, said: “We’ve had 70 years of peace now [in Europe], but we see that power politics is back with a vengeance, so it’s a wake-up call and now we need to get serious about defense.” He noted that “this was the feeling around the table”...
  • EU parliament gives final nod to banking union

    04/16/2014 1:15:03 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 1 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 16.04.14 @ 09:21 | Valentina Pop
    MEPs on Tuesday (15 April) overwhelmingly approved the creation of a new authority and fund for failing banks—a missing element to the so-called banking union aimed at minimizing the public cost of future financial crises. The final vote on the creation of a €55 billion fund financed by the banks themselves passed with 570 MEPs in favor, 88 against and 13 abstentions, while new rules in cases where public money needs to be used for winding down banks also gathered a similar majority: 584 votes in favor, 80 against and 10 abstentions. One key concession won by MEPs from governments...
  • EU’s Crimea sanctions modeled on occupied Palestinian territories

    04/15/2014 10:56:35 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 2 replies
    EurActiv ^ | 15/04/2014 - 17:03
    The Commission is close to finalizing proposals for economic and trade sanctions regarding Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula occupied by Russia. A final decision by member states is expected soon, diplomats told EurActiv. At their meeting held yesterday (14 April), EU ministers said they were looking forward to the Commission’s evaluation of the legal consequences of the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and to the related proposals for economic, trade and financial restrictions regarding the peninsula. According to EU diplomats, Crimea is “occupied territory” comparable to the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since June 1967. …
  • Why Germany should stop arming the world

    04/15/2014 5:04:38 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 10 replies
    TheLocal.de ^ | 15 Apr 2014 16:34 GMT+02:00 | Ben Knight
    Germany’s weapons industry is booming, and even the vice chancellor’s attempt to stop selling tanks to the Saudis is a minor concession for the world’s third biggest arms exporter. But the trade is destabilizing security. […] Henrik Heidenkamp, German defense industry expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told The Local the economic value was not the point, but about nurturing Germany’s defense industry so that it will be able to supply arms to the German army and its allies. “Only a commercially viable defense industry can deliver needed equipment to the armed forces in order to sustain the national...
  • Russia tests Obama’s ability to stop its advances

    04/15/2014 12:07:49 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 4 replies
    Associated Press ^ | Apr 15, 2014 3:03 AM EDT | Julie Pace
    President Barack Obama is once again faced with the complicated reality of following through on his tough warnings against overseas provocations. […] … Russia appears to be testing Obama’s limits, instigating protests in eastern Ukraine and massing thousands of troops on the border. …
  • Walgreen pressured to move headquarters to Europe

    04/14/2014 7:22:09 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 8 replies
    Chicago Tribune ^ | 4:20 p.m. CDT, April 14, 2014 | Peter Frost
    Walgreen Co. is under pressure from a group of shareholders to move its corporate headquarters to Europe to take advantage of tax benefits, the Financial Times reported. Shareholders owning about 5 percent of the company’s shares lobbied Deerfield-based Walgreen’s management to use its 45 percent ownership stake in Swiss-based Alliance Boots GmbH to change its legal base to Europe, the financial daily said. Walgreen, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, plans to complete the takeover of Alliance Boots, which runs Europe’s largest pharmacy chain, in 2015. …
  • Germany warns of war in Europe

    04/14/2014 12:11:35 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 24 replies
    TheLocal.de ^ | 14 Apr 2014 15:23 GMT+02:00 | (AFP/The Local)
    Germany warned of war in Europe on Monday, with vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel stating the continent was being “dragged” into a “smoldering conflict” with Russia over Ukraine. Gabriel—at an event commemorating World War I with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls—warned of resurgent nationalist forces both within Europe and “in its neighborhood”. He said that good news several months ago from Ukraine—including an end to bloody violence against protesters—had since given way to “an ongoing military confrontation” and the realization that “Russia is apparently willing to let tanks cross European borders.” …
  • Huge poll boost for UKIP as a fifth of voters say they will back anti-Europe party in wake of…

    04/14/2014 2:03:07 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 10 replies
    Daily Mail (UK) ^ | 19:47 EST, 13 April 2014 | Chris Pleasance and Gerri Peev
    The Conservatives could be pushed into third place at the European elections after the party’s poll ratings plunged in the wake of the Maria Miller expenses scandal. A poll has put the Tories on 23 percent, behind Labour (31 percent) and UKIP (28 percent) just days after the Culture Secretary was forced to resign in an expenses row. The Liberal Democrats were on a dismal 9 percent, according to analysis of recent polling by Professor Curtice of Strathclyde University. Levels of support for UKIP are now at a record high as they were the only party to gain popularity in...
  • Ukraine crisis could unite US, EU: Schäuble (Germany’s foreign minister)

    04/12/2014 10:03:00 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 7 replies
    TheLocal.de ^ | 12 Apr 2014 08:51 GMT+02:00 | (AFP)
    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Friday portrayed the Ukraine crisis as an opportunity for the European Union and the United States to revamp their relationship after the fallout of the NSA spying scandal. “I am confident that the Ukraine crisis will help us to strengthen transatlantic ties and rediscover our common interests,” Schäuble said in a speech on the sidelines of the annual IMF/World Bank spring meetings. Moscow’s “backslide into patterns from the previous century” has caused both sides of the Atlantic to move closer together, he said. “Like no two actors on the global stage, the United States...
  • Germany told to act to save Europe

    11/28/2011 8:35:28 PM PST · by Mariner · 40 replies
    Financial Times ^ | Quentin Peel
    Germany is the only country in Europe that can act to save the eurozone and the wider European Union from “a crisis of apocalyptic proportions”, the Polish foreign minister warned on Monday in a passionate call for more drastic action to prevent the collapse of the European monetary union. (See more at link)
  • EU set to help Ukraine pay gas bills: Oettinger

    04/11/2014 1:40:45 PM PDT · by dynachrome · 5 replies
    reuters ^ | 4-11-14 | Michael Shields
    European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger is working on a plan to help Ukraine pay some of its gas bills to Russia, he told Austria's ORF radio on Friday, saying there was "no reason to panic" about Russian gas supplies to Europe. "We are in close contact with Ukraine and its gas company to ensure that Ukraine remains able to pay and the debts that the gas company has to Gazprom do not rise further," he said, adding he would meet Ukraine's energy and foreign ministers on Monday.
  • Italian court recognizes gay marriage for first time

    04/10/2014 12:22:57 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 3 replies
    An Italian court on Wednesday recognized a gay couple as married for the first time in Italy, which does not have any form of official acknowledgement of same-sex unions. The court in Grosseto in Tuscany ordered the city council to list the couple, who had their wedding in New York in 2012, as married in a ruling that was immediately hailed by gay rights campaigners as historic. “This is an unprecedented case in our country,” Sergio Lo Giudice, a senator for the Democratic Party and a former head of the watchdog Arcigay, told reporters. …
  • U.S. Senate Moves To Protect Bratwurst and Bologna From EU Over-Reach on Geographical Indications

    04/09/2014 10:02:47 PM PDT · by iowamark · 8 replies
    The U.S. Senate is keeping up the pressure on the European Union (EU) to not hamper U.S. production and exports through the appropriation of common food names. This time the focus is on commonly used meat names, such as “bologna” and “black forest ham”. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the senators urged them to defend common names, especially in negotiations with the EU on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).Last month the Senate sent a similar letter focused on common cheese names that are under attack, including “parmesan”, “feta” and...
  • German Minister: ‘US Operating Without any Kind of Boundaries’

    04/09/2014 5:26:53 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 17 replies
    Der Spiegel ^ | April 09, 2014 – 12:00 PM | Jörg Schindler, Alfred Weinzierl and Peter Müller
    In an interview, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, 60, warns that American spying has become “boundless” and expresses sorrow that approval ratings for the United States have plummeted in Germany. […] “I am thinking of the foreign policy damage. Because the greater damage has actually been inflicted by the Americans and not the Germans. And I say this as a staunch trans-Atlanticist. Approval ratings for Americans in German polls are lower right now than they have been in a long time. The last time this was the case was during a certain phase of the policies of George W....
  • Amid showdown with energy-rich Russia, calls rise in Europe to start fracking

    04/08/2014 12:57:07 AM PDT · by Brad from Tennessee · 8 replies
    Washington Post ^ | April 7, 2014 | By Griff Witte and Anthony Faiola
    FERNHURST, England — Europe’s newest weapon in the battle of wills with Russian President Vladimir Putin lies buried deep beneath the ancient oaks and rolling green pastures of this quintessentially English village. There, wedged in the bedrock, lie vast quantities of oil and natural gas — enough, when combined with the spoils of hundreds of other sites like it, to help kick Europe’s addiction to Russian energy. Or so says David Cameron. Ever since Russian forces took hold of Crimea last month, the British prime minister has been leading a chorus of conservative politicians and energy executives in a refrain...
  • Barcelona university invents tool for measuring hate speech

    04/08/2014 12:29:49 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 8 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 08.04.12 @ 09:10 (Apr. 8) | Helena Spongenberg
    A team of academics in Catalonia have come up with a monitoring tool for xenophobic speech, something they say could be used at EU level too. Ricard Zapata-Barrero, professor of political and social sciences at Barcelona’s Universitat de Pompeu Fabre, and his colleague Gema Rubio Carbonero thought up the tool as a way for political parties to assess their own speeches and for civil society to scrutinize politicians. “Xenophobia is a construct,” says Zapata. He explains that political parties seek to divert public attention from the economic crisis by raising emotions and negative attitudes towards issues such as immigrants and...
  • Get ready to quit the EU now, Davis tells the Tories as he tears into Cameron and predicts…

    04/07/2014 12:53:01 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 14 replies
    Daily Mail (UK) ^ | 19:52 EST, 5 April 2014 | Simon Walters
    The Tory revolt over Europe took a dramatic turn last night after senior Conservative David Davis called on the Government to open talks with Brussels on quitting the EU. Former Tory chairman Mr. Davis tore into David Cameron, accusing him of making a mess of his pledge to win back powers from the EU. “Scaremongers” who said Britain would collapse if it decided to go it alone were talking nonsense, said Mr Davis. Quitting the EU would be like a “revolution” and would boost UK jobs, wages, world power, arts and prestige, he added. Significantly, his intervention comes days after...
  • White House Warns Russia

    04/07/2014 11:31:20 AM PDT · by Oldeconomybuyer · 94 replies
    Newsweek ^ | April 7, 2014
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Monday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against moving "overtly or covertly" into eastern Ukraine and said there was strong evidence that pro-Russian demonstrators in the region were being paid.
  • Hungary’s Fidesz tipped to win big in Sunday vote

    04/05/2014 3:10:46 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 5 replies
    Associated Press ^ | Apr 5, 2014 4:24 AM EDT | Pablo Gorondi
    Hungary’s governing party is tipped to win parliamentary elections Sunday, while a far-right party is expected to make further gains, according to polls. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party and its small ally, the Christian Democrats, are expected to win easily and they may even retain the two-thirds majority in the legislature gained in 2010 which allowed them to pass a new constitution, adopt unconventional economic policies, centralize power and grow the state’s influence at the expense of the private sector.Polls predict Fidesz will win around 45-50 percent of the votes, with a close race for second between a coalition...
  • Secret EU lawmaking: the triumph of the trialogue

    04/04/2014 5:52:35 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 2 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 04.04.14 @ 09:29 | Benjamin Fox
    The setting could not be less spectacular—one of the more nondescript rooms in the European Parliament’s glass towers overlooking Place Luxembourg in Brussels, where a handful of officials gather with armfuls of papers. At intervals, members of the Parliament’s catering staff silently walk round the room offering tea and coffee. Unless you were involved, you wouldn’t know that the meeting—one of around 1,000 so-called “trialogue” meetings to take place in 2013—was actually happening. […] Around 80 percent of EU laws are now agreed at first reading, with research by the parliament estimating that the average law agreed at first reading...
  • Conservative party descends into civil war as 100 Tory rebels prepare to defy Cameron on EU

    04/04/2014 11:27:34 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 25 replies
    Daily Mail (UK) ^ | 17:37 EST, 29 March 2014 | Simon Walters
    The fragile Tory truce over Europe disintegrated last night after it emerged that more than 100 Conservative MPs and candidates are set to defy David Cameron at the General Election next year by vowing to leave the EU. The Prime Minister has promised the Tory manifesto will spell out his pledge for a referendum by 2017 on Britain’s links with Europe after trying to win back key powers from Brussels. But Tory rebels will go further and make their own personal manifesto vows to campaign to withdraw from the EU—regardless of any concessions by Brussels. …
  • ‘An Historic Opportunity’: Turkish Cypriot Minister Says Reunification Deal Pending (Germany helps)

    04/02/2014 10:13:14 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 7 replies
    Der Spiegel ^ | April 01, 2014 – 11:17 AM | Suzanne Koelbl
    Negotiations to end the division of Cyprus have been ongoing for years. Now, Northern Cyprus Foreign Minister Özdil Nami tells Spiegel that a deal is close. And he wants Germany to help with reunification. […] “We have asked Germany for support for the process of reunification. Finally, the two parts of Cyprus—the Greek south and the Turkish north—are prepared for this step, after 40 years. It cannot be allowed to fail. It is an historic opportunity.” […] “With the large untapped natural gas reserves off the coast, we could help Europe reduce its dependency on Russia.” …
  • Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage get personal over EU in BBC debate (Farage wins 68-27 in debate poll)

    04/02/2014 2:14:31 PM PDT · by Nextrush · 13 replies
    BBC News ^ | 4/2/2014 | BBC
    Nick Clegg accused Nigel Farage of peddling "dangerous fantasies" in an ill-tempered BBC TV debate on Britain's future in Europe. Mr. Farage accused the Lib Dem leader of "willfully lying to the British people about Brussels' grip on UK laws. He also claimed EU immigration had hit the "white working class" the hardest. Instant polls said Mr. Farage had won by a bigger margin than he did in their debate last week.... The UKIP leader accused the Lib Den leader of being "hell bent on getting Britain involved in a war.... He said he did not want Britain to be...
  • 18 countries ratify UN Arms Trade Treaty

    04/02/2014 11:02:44 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 19 replies
    Associated Press ^ | Apr. 2, 2014 1:47 PM EDT | Edith M. Lederer
    Eighteen countries, including five of the world’s leading arms exporters, ratified a landmark treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar global arms trade on Wednesday, giving a significant boost to the campaign for the treaty’s entry into force. […] Five of the world’s top 10 arms exporters—Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain—turned in their ratification documents at the ceremony. The other 13 were Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Among the hold-outs is the United States, the world’s largest weapons exporter. The Obama administration has signed the treaty but there is strong resistance in...
  • Environment minister: Make fracking illegal (Germany)

    04/01/2014 2:18:26 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 8 replies
    TheLocal.de ^ | 01 Apr 2014 12:45 GMT+02:00 | (DPA/The Local)
    Germany’s environment minister has called for the controversial gas extraction technique known as “fracking” to be made illegal. Her comments came ahead of an emergency energy summit. The country’s 16 state premiers were set to meet on Tuesday evening in Berlin in an attempt to smooth over disagreements around the financing of the country's switch over to renewable energy, known as the Energiewende. Ahead of the meeting, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said Germany should never consider turning to fracking as a solution for its energy needs, despite the success of the technology in the USA. Fracking involves blasting water mixed...
  • French public debt at record high

    04/01/2014 7:21:30 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 2 replies
    EurActiv ^ | 31/03/2014 - 12:07 | Aline Robert
    French public debt decreased in 2013, but is still higher than expected. Total debt continues to climb and fails to meet the Maastricht criteria. EurActiv France reports. Despite austerity measures, France’s public deficit did not meet its government targets for 2013. The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) published figures showing that it currently stands at 4.3% of GDP. The French government expected this percentage to be 4.1%, whilst the European Commission predicted 4.2%. However timid, the reduction of public deficit from its previous level of 4.9%, in 2013, is still a significant improvement. …
  • (EU Parliament president) Schulz: Cut aid to African countries with anti-gay laws

    04/01/2014 7:13:03 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 20 replies
    EurActiv ^ | 04/01/2014 - 09:40 | Arthur Neslen
    Imprisoning gays and lesbians for their sexuality is a “disgrace” that should disqualify offending countries from EU aid, the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, told a joint summit with MPs from the Pan-African Parliament yesterday (31 March), sparking a row. On 25 March, Ethiopia became the third African country, after Uganda and Nigeria, to institute long-term imprisonments for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, with other African states, including Kenya, said to be preparing to follow suit. This represented “an unacceptable violation of the basic rights of individuals” said Schulz, who has been widely tipped to be...
  • Germany ready to reinforce NATO-Russia borders

    03/31/2014 12:58:28 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 55 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 31.03.14 @ 09:27 | Andrew Rettman
    Germany has said its air force is ready to increase security on NATO’s border with Russia, despite Moscow’s promise not to escalate the crisis in Ukraine. A German defense ministry spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency on Sunday (30 March) “the army could take part in flights to patrol airspace with AWACS machines [surveillance planes] over Romania and Poland as well as training flights in the framework of a NATO air policing mission over Baltic states”. The statement comes after Denmark and the US in the past few weeks agreed to send more than a dozen extra F-16 fighter jets...
  • Fighting Words: Schäuble Says Putin’s Crimea Plans Reminiscent of Hitler (Germany finance minister)

    03/31/2014 12:50:21 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 10 replies
    Der Spiegel ^ | March 31, 2014 – 01:01 PM | Christian Reiermann
    As Germany’s Mr. Euro, Wolfgang Schäuble is one of the country’s best-known politicians abroad. When the finance minister speaks, people generally tend to listen. But on Monday morning, public statements at his ministry raised eyebrows. Schäuble made statements drawing parallels between the politics of Adolf Hitler and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Schäuble said Russia’s actions in Ukraine remind him of the expansionism of Nazi Germany. “Hitler already adopted such methods in Sudetenland,” Schäuble said at a public event at the Finance Ministry in Berlin on Monday morning. “That’s something that we all know from history.” Schäuble’s comments were directed at...
  • ‘Anti-gay’ bus driver fired for spraying lesbians (Nancy, France)

    03/30/2014 6:56:55 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 38 replies
    TheLocal.fr ^ | 24 Mar 2014 15:44 GMT+01:00 | Joshua Melvin
    Transport authorities in northern France laid off a driver “as a protective measure,” after he sprayed a teenage lesbian couple with water after they kissed in front of him last week. The driver stopped in front of a high school near Nancy to pick up students around 5:30 pm on Friday when the young couple shared the kiss. The driver allegedly uncapped a bottle of water he had with him and let its contents fly on the teenage girls. …
  • Internet providers can be forced to block access to illegal downloads, rules EU Court

    03/30/2014 5:29:42 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 8 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 28.03.14 @ 09:44 | Benjamin Fox
    EU-based internet service providers can be ordered to block customers’ access to a copyright-infringing website, following a ruling on Thursday (27 March) by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The judgment follows a dispute between Austrian Internet provider Telekabel Wien and two film companies, based in Germany and Austria, over whether the internet service provider (ISP) should be forced to prevent its customers from accessing film download site kino.to, a Tonga-based website that received nearly 4 million visitors a day. …
  • US assistant secretary of state Nuland visiting Bulgaria amid mixed signals in Sofia on Russia

    03/30/2014 11:18:52 AM PDT · by Tailgunner Joe · 18 replies
    sofiaglobe.com ^ | March 30, 2014
    United States secretary of state Victoria Nuland is due in Sofia on March 31 to meet senior Bulgarian government officials on the eve of a Nato ministerial meeting at which the Russia-Ukraine situation is expected to dominate discussions. There have been mixed signals in top political circles in Bulgaria on the Crimea crisis and the issue of sanctions against Russia. While three out of four of the parties represented in Parliament agreed on a Consultative Council on National Security statement condemning Russian intervention in Ukraine and the current cabinet has said that it would not veto economic sanctions against Russia...
  • Bible banned from world famous Trinity College crest

    03/29/2014 11:36:29 AM PDT · by Altura Ct. · 38 replies
    Irish Central ^ | 3/29/14
    Trinity College Dublin is to remove the bible from its crest, it has been there since 1592. They will also change the color scheme on the ancient crest to avoid a clash with Ryanair’s corporate image. The world famous college is set to be rebranded as ‘Trinity College, the University of Dublin’ in a strategic plan to be launched next year. The Irish Times reports that it is not only the name that will change at the university, home to the Book of Kells. Religious symbolism has also been removed from the college’s ancient crest at a cost of almost...
  • Germany in renewed push for EU treaty change

    03/29/2014 12:14:26 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 1 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 28.03.14 @ 09:50 | Valentina Pop
    German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said discussions on revising the treaty to secure the eurozone’s architecture will begin after the May EU elections. “After the EU elections, the debate about treaty change will be back on the table. The federal government will plead for institutional improvements, at least in the eurozone. The monetary union needs a joint finance- and economic policy, with corresponding institutions,” Schäuble said in an interview with Handelsblatt published on Thursday (27 March). He repeated his call for a eurozone parliament and a permanent chief of the Eurogroup, the informal gathering of eurozone finance ministers. …
  • (European) Commission plans to tap pension funds to kickstart business

    03/29/2014 12:09:51 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 6 replies
    EU Observer ^ | 28.03.14 @ 10:01 | Benjamin Fox
    Tapping pension funds and encouraging online crowd funding are at the heart of plans unveiled by the European Commission to kickstart business investment. Speaking on Thursday (27 March), financial services commissioner Michel Barnier said the Commission’s blueprint on “long-term financing” published the same day was needed to further encourage alternatives to traditional bank lending which remains stagnant more than five years since the start of the financial crisis. “Our financial system must regain and increase its ability to finance the real economy,” he said, adding that “we need to diversify financing sources in Europe and improve access to finance for...
  • French Parliament pushes ‘fast-food’ tax

    03/26/2014 10:21:18 PM PDT · by Olog-hai · 1 replies
    EurActiv ^ | 24/03/2014 - 17:47 | Kelly Thomas
    A senatorial report proposes a junk-food tax on products that cause cardiovascular diseases. The tax aims specifically at soft drinks, which currently benefit from low taxes. EurActiv France reports. Similar to steps taken by other European countries, a new junk-food tax is doing the rounds in the French parliament. […] The senators who led the report, Yves Daudigny (socialist) and Catherine Deroche (UMP), encourage talk of “contribution to public health” and not the frequently used term “behavioral taxation”. …
  • Ex-generals: Bring back conscription (Germany)

    03/26/2014 9:05:55 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 42 replies
    TheLocal.de ^ | 25 Mar 2014 10:29 GMT+01:00
    Mounting tension in the Crimea is prompting calls for compulsory military service to be reintroduced in Germany. A number of German ex-generals have raised fears over the nation’s military strength should it be drawn into a NATO-led conflict. “We need compulsory military service. There is no other way for Germany to guarantee national defense within the [NATO] mutual defense alliance,” retired NATO general Egon Ramms told Bild newspaper. “[It certainly can’t be done] on a voluntary basis.” Ramms was commander of the Allied Joint Forces Command between 2007 and 2010, one of the highest-ranking positions in the NATO alliance. …
  • German defense chief von der Leyen calls for stronger NATO backing in Ukraine crisis

    03/26/2014 8:59:31 AM PDT · by Olog-hai · 11 replies
    Deutsche Welle ^ | 23.03.2014 | [kms/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa)]
    Germany’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Sunday that NATO should show greater support for member countries who could face military aggression from Russia. However, the comments were met with sharp criticism from some German parliamentarians, who accused her of contributing to the escalation of tension around Russia’s actions in Crimea. In an interview with German public broadcaster ARD, the defense chief dismissed those critics and stood by her position. “It’s important to make clear that NATO isn’t just something on paper, but that we are there for each other,” von der Leyen said in comments that were...